Tlingit Chilkat Weaving, ca. 1915

Value (2015) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

My mother was a lifelong student of, collector of, and eventually a dealer of antiques. She found this, and she was intrigued by it because she looked at the fringe and saw that there was some sort of bark woven into the fringe, so she said, "I think this is probably an authentic old blanket." Fast-forward maybe eight or nine years later, I'd bought my first house, she brought it up to my house. She said, "I think this would look good hung on your wall." Well, we put it, tried it here, tried it there, it didn't work anywhere, so she took it home, put it into a cedar chest, and that's where it's been ever since, since 1985. I remember asking my dad about it, and he told me what she paid for it.

And what was that? What did she pay?


It's quite a find. It is the work of the Natives of the Pacific Northwest Coast-- to be more specific, the Tlingits. It is a weaving tradition that started in the early 1800s. This piece was probably from the 1910, 1920 time period. A person who studies Chilkat blankets extensively could probably tell us who the maker was. Both men and women are involved with the production of these blankets. The men gather the mountain goat which that's woven of, and the women gather the cedarbark.


It's cedar bark, yes. It's hung on a horizontal loom, and all the warp fringes hang down. Each clan has a totem-- bear, frog, beaver... Whoever designed this for, whoever it was made for, this is their animal, which appears to be a bear, predominately, broken up and spread on a symmetrical display. They were always very expensive blankets to own and produce. They take up to a year to make. So the nobility of the tribes would own them, and they would dance them. So these would be worn during potlatch ceremonials. The different colors are all natural. The brown is achieved by hemlock and urine. Sometimes you see blue. There might have been blue in this. There's hints of a fugitive color that's faded. The great mystery of this piece is the fact that I don't know why it's seamed down... sort of the middle.

My mother commented on that back when we were discussing it years ago, and she thought maybe that's why it was in the store and priced like it was, because she thought it had been repaired or something.

Why that happened is very unclear to me. It doesn't look like it's trying to conceal damage. It is done with the same materials as the weave itself. So it's a bit of a mystery, and it's not something that would have been necessarily part of the weaving. It's a very, very complicated weaving process. It's really wonderful. And so on today's marketplace, if you were to sell this at auction, any guesses what you think it would bring?

No idea. APRAISER: It would be about $8,000 to $12,000.

(chuckling) Wow, really?


Way to go, Mom!

Appraisal Details

Franklin, TN
Appraised value (2015)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Charleston, SC (August 08, 2015)
Tribal Arts

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